An archaeological investigation of local Aboriginal responses to European colonisation in the South Australian Riverland via an assessment of culturally modified trees

Mia Dardengo, Amy Roberts, Mick Morrison, River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper explores the individuality and spatial uniqueness of culturally
modified trees (CMTs) in the South Australian Riverland to provide new
understandings about local Aboriginal responses to European colonisation. As a
result of this study 89 CMTs with 99 scars were located and recorded within the
floodplain on Calperum Station which can now be monitored and protected for
the future. Shield/dish type scars were the most frequent scar types (60%),
followed by canoe scars (19%), shelter material or mybkoo scars (4%) and
European shingle scars (2%). The remaining 15% of scars were the result of
resource procurement. Through an analysis of scar attributes, species-specific
trends were illuminated that tell a distinctive local narrative of bark use in the
Riverland. We conclude that there was an adapta tion of local bark procurement
strategies, favouring black box (Eucalyptus largiflorens) bark, as opposed to bark
from red gum trees (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), after a period of sustained
European entanglement in the area. Despite this shift, red gum trees remained
the target for canoe bark. These trends, when considered in conjunction with the
ethnohistoric record of bark use in the region, highlight the continuity in the
cultural use of bark by Aboriginal people in the Riverland region, albeit with new
technology and transformed procurement strategies which occurred in response
to the rapid changes brought by European invasion and settlement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-70
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia
Volume43
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Culturally Modified Trees
  • River Murray
  • South Australia

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